Char Siu Bao - Chinese Steamed Pork Buns

Chinese steamed pork buns recipe

​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

  • Total: 100 mins
  • Prep: 90 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: Serves 8 (24 buns)

Steamed pork buns are an absolute must-have when you go to a dim sum restaurant. The sweet and rich flavor of the barbecued pork, housed in a light and fluffy bun, is something to behold. 

If you've never had the pleasure of having dim sum, we encourage you to try it. Think of it as the Chinese version of Spanish tapas. You can go and order a variety of smaller plates that you can share with your table. A lovely way to broaden ones horizons and try new dishes, without feeling like you have to commit a whole meal to one item, that you are not sure if you will enjoy. This way, you can try a bunch of different items and perhaps find a new dish that you never would have thought you'd really like. Win-win! 

If you happen to really enjoy the pork buns, also known as Char Siu Bao, then the below recipe is a great way to create these delicious buns at home. The recipe happens to be courtesy of Sylvia Schulman's cookbook, Madame Wong's Long-Life Chinese Cookbook.

Ingredients

  • For the Buns:
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package dried yeast (or 1 cake fresh yeast)
  • 1 cup water (lukewarm)
  • 4 1/2 cups flour (divided)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or Crisco)
  • 1/2 cup water (boiling)
  • For the Pork Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 scallion (chopped fine)
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped fine)
  • 1/2 pound barbecued pork (cut into small cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water (or chicken stock)
  • For Assembly:
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this steamed pork bun dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Buns

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for bun
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  2. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.

    Dissolve yeast in water
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  3. Add 1 cup of flour and mix thoroughly.

    Mix
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  4. Cover with cloth and let rise 1 hour, until bubbles appear.

    Cover with cloth
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  5. Dissolve sugar and vegetable oil in 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir well.

    Dissolve
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  6. Cool until lukewarm, then pour into yeast mixture.

    Cool until lukewarm
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  7. Add 3 1/2 cups flour and stir.

    Add flour
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  8. Knead dough on lightly floured board until smooth.

    Knead dough
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  9. Put into extra large, greased bowl in a warm place.

    Put dough in bowl
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  10. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until double in bulk, about 2 hours.

    Cover
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

Make the Pork Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pork filling
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok. Stir fry scallion and garlic 30 seconds.

    Heat oil
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  3. Add pork and stir-fry for 1 minute.

    Pork
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  4. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar.

    Add soy sauce
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  5. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water.

    Cornstarch and water
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  6. Pour the dissolved cornstarch into the wok. Stir-fry quickly until pork is glazed.

    pour into wok
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  7. Remove to bowl and allow to cool.

    Remove into bowl
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

Assemble

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pork bun
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  2. On a floured board, knead dough 1 minute and roll into one long, sausage-like roll 2 inches in diameter.

    Knead dough
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  3. Slice the roll crosswise into 1-inch pieces.

    Slice roll
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  4. Flatten each piece with the palm of your hand and roll with rolling pin into 3-inch rounds.

    Flatten
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  5. Brush with sesame oil.

    Brush with sesame oil
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  6. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in center of each round.

    Place in filling
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  7. Gather dough up around the filling by pleating along the edges.

    Gather dough
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  8. Bring the pleats up and twist securely and firmly.

    Fold up
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  9. Place each bun on 2-inch square of either parchment paper or aluminum foil on a steamer tray.

    Put in baskets
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  10. Cover with a towel. Let rise 1 hour, until dough springs back when touched with finger.

    Cover
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  11. Remove towel and steam over briskly boiling water for 10 minutes.

    Serve pork bun
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

Tip

  • This dish can be prepared in advance. Make the buns, fill them, and steam them, as you would normally. Then freeze them in a ziploc bag. When ready to eat, thaw out the plastic bag and re-steam for 10 minutes.